Since making its first investment in 1999, Monitor Clipper Partners – founded by advisory business Monitor Group and private equity firm The Clipper Group – has invested more than $1.2 billion in middle-market companies in North America and Europe. The firm makes equity investments of between $20 million to $100 million in companies such as Technal, Reverse Logistics and CMC, with two offices in London and Zurich and consultants from the Monitor Group in 23 countries worldwide. Kevin Ley spoke with Monitor Clipper CFO April Evans about the challenges and opportunities of working at a middle-market player in this environment.
HOW DID YOU END UP AT MCP?
Previously I was with Advanced Technology Ventures, which is one of the bicoastal venture capital firms, doing healthcare and technology investing. I came to ATV in late 1995; prior to that I owned an accounting firm which was hired as ATV's part-time CFO, then in mid-1997 I transitioned to become ATV's full-time CFO. In mid-2004 I was approached by an executive recruiter who was doing a search for MCP. I took the plunge, met with the recruiter and the company, and decided that if I was half serious about making a change I owed it to myself to do a real search. Ultimately what made me decide MCP was the place for me were two things. One was that the firm has a set of values that are consistent with my own value system, that makes a huge difference in one's day-today life.
WHAT WAS THE OTHER DECIDING FACTOR?
MCP is a very complex organisation, so it was an opportunity to take on a whole new set of challenges that just didn't exist at ATV or other firms I was contemplating at the time. The complexity has to do with the fact that MCP is a middle-market buyout firm, which often means very complex deal structures. I'm a part of all structuring discussions, which is an interesting and, for CFOs, a unique opportunity.
WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING TYPES OF DEALS?
Our European deals require a series of complex intermediary structures which are always a challenge to think through. Each country in Europe has a different set of regulations and treaties, and each set of treaties brings with it its own set of challenges. In terms of building these structures, beyond our in-house knowledge we rely on outside counsel in the jurisdiction in which we are going to be investing, so if it's Germany we've got a law firm in Germany and we probably have an accounting firm there working with us on structuring as well. To support our commitment to investing in Europe, we opened an office in Zurich in mid-2006. That was an entertaining process; every country has its own set of rules, and you're not just going to put the keys in a lock and start an office.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
There's never the same day twice, which is the fun of it. That's what I like about the mid-market world: it's big enough to have real challenges but small enough that you have the ability to participate in everything. I look at my job and my team's job as being basically to run the organisation in such a way that the deal teams never have to focus on anything other than working with their companies and doing diligence on and negotiating new deals. So that means one minute I'm dealing with an HR issue, and the next minute is a legal question. I end up taking on all the infrastructure issues, legal matters, HR, IT, you name it. It goes from planning the annual meeting to working on the deal structuring on a deal in Luxembourg, to deciding whether it is Luxembourg or the Netherlands for a deal structure to an LP needing some data quickly from us. It's about making sure the trains run on time, about handling all the behind-the-scenes things that when done well no one even knows are happening.